Tuesday was a special evening. It was the Penzance Wheelers cycling club classic roller racing event, where club riders go head to head at full gas, racing against each other on the rollers, to see who is the fastest. It’s one of my favourite types of race, and I was very tempted to take part, but my mother told me not to! but it was exciting to watch… serious fun.
It wasn’t just the roller racing going on in the club house, but there was also a ‘bake-off’ competition, to see who had baked the best cake! These are classic Penzance Wheelers events!
After greeting all my club mates, Matt Southam the chairman of Penzance Wheelers Cycling Club and the father of ex pro cyclist Tom Southam (Sports Director – Drapac Professional Cycling Team) gave a speech about me. The next thing completely took me by surprise and made me a little gob-smacked… when Matt announced that the club has funded me £300 towards my 2017 racing season in Spain! Matt presented me with a £300 cheque and also a PZW club cycling top, which I will proudly display when training in Spain. I wasn’t expecting anything other than a fun evening, so it was a very special moment for me, realising that the club is in full support of me.
I joined the Penzance Wheelers club in February 2011 when I was a novice cyclist, and I remember when I would wake up on a Sunday morning, full of excitement, in anticipation of the club ride. I would arrive at the Long Rock meeting point to greet the Wheelers, dressed in my non-cycling kit! But the first time riding with a group was just so cool. I remember feeling like a pro, racing in a peloton! That’s how I was thinking, while all the cyclists were talking and laughing.
When we reached the climb, I couldn’t resist, but I would attack, I had so much ego! I had a huge imagination and would think that I was attacking from the peloton, my lungs were exploding, and I kept pushing it. But several seconds after my attack, the Wheelers, and even the oldies were passing me while still cruising and talking! It destroyed me! I was demolished! Then, total legends Dave Henderson and John Garwell would slow down to gave me a push. I totally needed that push!
On that very first club ride I was relieved when we arrived at the Scarlet cafe in Hayle, I could barely walk! And after resting at the cafe, I didn’t know the way back, so Andrew McPherson rode with me all the way to Penzance. I remember our conversation, he was advising me to get proper cycling shoes, as I was wearing Nike trainers!
When we arrived back in Penzance, I thanked Andrew for looking after me, and I assumed he lived in Penzance, until he told me that he was riding back to Hayle! I was in total admiration, and I thought what a hero he was! I was telling my mum ‘”He’s going back all the way to Hayle!”. It seemed like a big distance back then!
From then on, the Wheelers continued pushing me hard every Sunday morning, and I quickly developed skill and strength. 6 months later, I was racing in the Junior Tour of Wales stage race against some of the best national junior riders in the UK at the time, such as Alex Peters, Hugh Carthy, Owain Doull and Ryan Mullen. If I hadn’t joined the Penzance Wheelers, then I wouldn’t have done the race. I owe them big and will always be part of the club.
Thank you to PZW for your support, I am truly honoured.